The Wildcats shot an uncharacteristic 48 percent from the field and earned their fourth conference win in Madison Wednesday.
Northwestern entered Wednesday’s game shooting an anemic 39 percent from the floor this season. Against the third-ranked defense in the Big Ten and the 14th-ranked team in the country, they shot 44 percent from behind the arc alone.
NU inexplicably found its offensive stroke, scoring 43 second-half points and upsetting the Badgers 65-56 at the Kohl Center. The Drew Crawford lead the way with a season-high 30 points on efficient 10-of-15 shooting, while Tre Demps scored 10 off the bench and Sanjay Lumpkin added 12 rebounds.
The first half followed the script of the usual Northwestern upset: grinding pace, tough defense and low scoring. Alex Olah ran into early foul trouble, but the Cats’ interior defense, usually a liability, held its own against Wisconsin’s frontcourt of Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker. Lumpkin had eight rebounds in the half, and Northwestern was down just 23-22 at the break.
The Wildcats put up their most dynamic half of the Chris Collins era in the second period. Northwestern went on a 30-9 tear after a timeout at the 16-minute mark, and nailed threes from Crawford, Demps and Jershon Cobb during a frantic two-minute span. Alex Olah added an unlikely trey as well, and despite a shaky close against Wisconsin’s press, the Wildcats scooped their incipient season’s biggest win to date with a 65-56 final.
The Cats held Wisconsin to just 26 percent shooting, and the Badgers failed to crack 60 points for the first time since Dec. 4.
Less than a month earlier, the Badgers thumped Northwestern by 27 in Evanston. Now, the Cats have their first-ever win in the Kohl Center, and have as many conference wins as the once-no. 3 Badgers. Northwestern sits sixth in the Big Ten and will play at Minnesota Saturday.